Recently, I’ve written about technology in my new home. I typically write about fairly significant (and expensive) additions or systems to integrate into your home. For a change of pace, I thought I’d take a look 5 less expensive additions that all cost under $50 that can make a real difference.
1) USB Outlets - For now, most of our devices charge via USB. That means we can have unsightly “wall warts” and cables laying around anytime we want to grab a quick charge. I’ve strategically installed a few USB outlets around my house for quick and convenient charging. My current favorite is theTopgreener TU21548A Smart Dual USB Charger Outlet. This outlet will support 4.8-amps charging across two USB ports which means it will charge two iPads at full speed. Topgreener also makes a similar outlet with one USB-C port and One USB-A port if you want to future-proof your setup. While these outlets will occasionally go on sale, they typically range between $23 - $30.
2) Retractable Charging Cables - Since I’m trying to keep ugly power bricks out of sight I want to minimize cable clutter as well. I’ve picked up a few retractable Lighting cables. These cables will quickly retract to a compact size and can be tucked away in a drawer. Neat and easy. The Amazon Basics brand has a retractable cable that runs about $13.
3) Cord Hider - Perhaps you’re noticing a theme, I don’t like looking at cords. Whenever possible I try to hide them behind furniture, run them through drywall or otherwise minimize their appearance. However, sometimes a run of cable cannot be avoided. When that happens, I try to hide as much of the cable as possible. For that, I like Wiremold Cord Organizer. This thin plastic tubing will cover unsightly cables and has a peel and stick backing. I typically run my cable along baseboards where it simply blends in as if it were a piece of trim. If necessary the cord organizer can also be stuck to walls and painted. It’s a lot more appealing than an unseemly wire. Depending on size, they typically run $15 per pack.
4) Occupancy Sensor - There are a few rooms in my home I always want the lights to turn on when I enter, and off shortly thereafter. Two examples include my laundry room and my walk-in closet. These are places where I typically only spend short periods of time but turning on and off the lights is a hassle because my hands are usually full. For these rooms, I’ve installed occupancy sensors. Occupancy sensors replace the light switch and will sense motion in the room and activate the light for several seconds or several minutes depending on their programming. With occupancy sensors installed I never have to worry about entering a dark room or leaving the light on. Sensors range from $15 - $30 depending on features.
5) SnapPower Guidelights - Adding lighting to a home can be very expensive. The SnapPower Guidelight is an easy way to add a little extra ambient light to a room at night by adding three LED lights to a standard outlet cover. A sensor on the light automatically activates the LEDs when it’s dark. I’ve found these lights a great alternative to ugly night lights. I use them to add light to a dark bathroom or hallway at night. Because the SnapPower draws power from the existing screw terminals on your outlets so they install in just a few seconds. Individual covers are $20 with multi-packs available.
*This article first appeared in the July Issue of ScreencastsOnline Monthly Magazine. ScreenCastsOnline monthly magazine is packed with hints, tips, articles, and links to streamable versions of ScreenCastsOnline tutorials and delivered monthly. Find out more at https://www.screencastsonline.com/membership_benefits